Thursday, March 30, 2017

Advantages of Buying a Home


The pride of being called a home owner is one of the sweetest advantage that buying a home can accord to an individual. But beyond this, there are many more advantages that home ownership brings. Right now, you may have some hesitations and you're still contemplating if buying a house is a right move. Listed below are the advantages that will give you more reasons to strive hard and buy your dream house.

Increasing home values

Next to the pride of ownership, knowing that home prices appreciate over the years is another great advantage of buying a house. For the past years since the great recession, the real estate industry is on a rebound. Average home prices are starting to get upscale. With this trend, home owners are assured that a great investment is within their hands.

Deductions in property taxes

Depending on the state, home owners are also qualified to some tax deductions specially for a first home. But there are also instances when vacation homes also qualify for property tax deductions.

Increased privacy

Privacy is another advantage of an owned house. As compared to rented shelters, owned homes give the owners more capacity to decide on how they are going to keep their home activities private. Also, home owners can decide on who comes in and out of their homes at any given period of time - a very good privilege for families who often have visitors, gatherings, and friendly unions.

Provisions for expansion and improvements

Buying a home also gives the owner the right to impose expansions, changes, and other improvements. Shall time comes that an extra room is warranted due to an additional family member, then an existing room can be converted to another bedroom. Wall paint colors can be changed without having to secure permission to landlords. The kitchen and other house parts can be designed, decorated, and treated according to the aesthetic taste and functional wants of the owner.

Being a home owner is a beaming joy for many people. For some, it is a fruit of years of hard work and earning. To others, it is a sanctuary of love, care, and happiness. However you want your space to be called and identified, the advantages of buying a house is yours for grab.

Be a homeowner now and join other persons as they reap the benefits and advantages of the houses they bought. Searching for a house now, reach your local real estate agent and be in-the-know of the current listings.

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Your First Mortgage: What First Time Buyers Should Know


For first time homebuyers, the mortgage qualification process is often much more difficult than finding the starter home of their dreams. If you decide that you're ready to purchase your first home but aren't sure how or where to start, here are four helpful tips for getting the ball rolling right into home ownership.

1. Check your credit. If your credit rating is not any good, you're going to have a hard time getting anyone to lend you a large amount of money. There are several free sites potential first time homebuyers can visit to find out how they're being rated by the three major credit agencies. Lenders will use these scores to determine your trustworthiness, so it's important that you're not surprised by what it says. If you find any errors, you can have them corrected.

2. Get your documents in order. To get pre-approved for a loan, you'll need to have several documents in hand to show the lender that you can afford to make the monthly payments. You'll need to have your tax returns from the past couple of years, bank account statements to show that you have enough savings for a down payment, and paystubs for a more recent confirmation of income. You'll also need your social security number on hand so the mortgage company can run your credit.

3. Decide what size home you can afford. Your monthly payments will be made up of much more than just the principle and interest of the loan. Included in your payment will likely be your local property taxes, the homeowner's insurance on the home, any flood insurance, and the monthly mortgage insurance premium if you choose not to put down at least 20% of the selling price up front. Research the costs of these factors in your area for an idea of what they will add to your monthly payments.

4. Pick a lender or two. Make an appointment to talk with a mortgage representative near you. You'll also want to talk with a local lending company or your bank. Going to more than one place may help you understand the process best, and you'll be able to compare terms to get a better deal. They will help talk you through the process and ensure that you understand the terms of the loan. Further, if you qualify, the lending agent will also be able to offer you pre-approval for a loan, which will help in the negotiation process once you find your dream home.

Getting approved for a mortgage can be a confusing process, especially for first time homebuyers. By being prepared to qualify for a loan before you find the right home for you, you'll be able to spare yourself the heartache of missing out on it because you didn't qualify for the loan. Once you have your financing squared away, you can let the searching begin!

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Friday, March 24, 2017

Tight Inventory, Few Refinance Applications Contribute to Softer Housing Market


With very limited economic data to trade on this week, investors took their focus to Capitol Hill and seemed to be paying attention to President Trump and what is happening with Congress.  The President has been trying to work with Congress on a replacement for Obamacare.  If you have been listening and paying attention to the news, it is obvious that his negotiations have not been going well.

Investors are now beginning to question whether the President will be able to get passage of tax reform which would be a boost to business overall.  With this concern, investors have been pulling money out of stocks in recent days driving the DOW down this week by almost 300 points.

Outside of Presidential happenings, the majority of the news this week was related to housing.  Surprisingly, the FHFA house price index came in unchanged for the month of January.  Given the extreme shortage of available homes for sale, the lack of appreciation surprised many analyst’s. Home prices remain higher by 5.7 percent from the same time last year.  With the Spring buying season about to start, it is expected that home prices will jump unless many more sellers enter the market increasing available inventory.  This latest report is the weakest month-to-month showing in more than 4 years and the weakest year-on-year rate in 2-1/2 years.

The East South Central was the hardest hit area in which home prices declined 2.0 percent.  Prices in this region are still up by 3.5 percent from last year, however expectations were that there would be much more of a positive difference between this year and last year.  The Pacific market was the winner with a 0.6 percent monthly gain.

Even existing home sales came in with softer readings than expected.  Sales are down 3.7 percent in February to a 5.480 million annualized rate.  Single family homes showed weakness with a 3.0 percent decline.  Condo sales represented the biggest decline with a drop of 9.2 percent.  Single family sales remain higher by 5.7 percent from the same time last year. 

Overall, existing home sales are up a strong 5.4 percent from last year.  Prices are up 7.7 percent from the same time last year as well.  Home supply has been improving but continues to remain very low.  Many areas of the country are experiencing bidding wars taking place for the homes that are placed for sale.  Even in the Northeast, where typically home prices have been the slowest to rise, sellers are now experiencing multiple bid situations on their homes.

To place a bow on this less than stellar housing report, applications for purchase and refinance mortgages both declined last week according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.  Purchase apps dropped 2.0 percent and refinances declined by 3.0 percent.  Applications are still up slightly from the same time last year and no specific circumstances can be attributed to last week’s decline in activity.
Next week’s potential market moving reports are:

·        Tuesday March 28th – S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller HPI, Consumer Confidence
·        Wednesday March 29th - MBA Applications, Pending Home Sales
·        Thursday March 30th - First Time Jobless Claims
·        Friday March 31st – Consumer Sentiment

As your mortgage and real estate professional, I am happy to assist you with any information you may need regarding mortgage or real estate trends.  I welcome the opportunity to serve you in any way I possibly can.  Please feel free to reach me at (707) 455-7070.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Moving Solano Forward


Solano County - moving forward, mission focused, a key location to the Bay Area market.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Strong Economy Signals Possible Interest Rate Rise


The markets have been somewhat in a holding pattern as investors await next weeks Fed decision on interest rates.  Although, more than 70% of analysts interviewed believe that the Fed will raise rates, investors appear to be waiting for the announcement before making any major changes in their finance strategies.

Adding to the likelihood that the Fed will raise rates next week are this week’s ADP Employment Report and the National Labor Department Report.  On Wednesday ADP released that their data which showed a giant increase in private payrolls by 298,000 for the month of February.  This was more than 100,000 higher than the high end of analyst’s expectations. 

The markets did not react with much more than a yawn as investors do not put much faith in the accuracy of the ADP report compared to the Labor Department data.  However, it is important to note that in January ADP was relatively accurate with their estimates.  Overall in the last year, ADP reporting has been much closer to the Labor Department numbers than they have been in years past.

Friday the Labor Department reported a gain of 235,000 jobs.  Although the number is lower than ADP’s number, the results are still very strong.  This growth in the labor force piggybacks on January’s gain of 238,000.  This report all but cements the likelihood the Fed raising rates at the Fed meeting next week.

The Mortgage Bankers Association of American reported that last week purchase applications rose by 2.0 percent while refinances increased 5.0 percent.  Mortgage rates had ticked down in the last week and that is likely the stimulus for the increase in refinances.  Purchase applications, although continuing to rise, are being tempered by the fact that there is a significant lack of housing inventory across the country. 

Oregon and Washington have been the main areas of the country lacking inventory for pretty much all of last year.  This year, the housing shortage has expanded and has been felt in many more areas across the United States.  The Northeast and South are now facing significant shortage in available housing inventory for sale.  The Midwest has also experienced a decline in housing inventory but not to the degree of the other regions.

First time jobless claims continue to remain extremely low.  Down to 243,000, along with this week’s very strong employment reports, the decline in claims is likely to continue.

Next week’s potential market moving reports are:

·        Monday March 13th – Labor Market Index
·        Tuesday March 14th – FOMC Meeting Begins
·        Wednesday March 15th - MBA Applications, FOMC Announcement, FOMC Forecasts, Retail Sales, Consumer Price Index, and the Housing Market Index
·        Thursday March 16th - First Time Jobless Claims, JOLTS Report, and Housing Starts
·        Friday March 17th – Industrial Production and Consumer Sentiment

As your mortgage and real estate professional, I am happy to assist you with any information you may need regarding mortgage or real estate trends.  I welcome the opportunity to serve you in any way I possibly can.  Please feel free to reach me at (707) 455-7070.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

First Time Home Buyer Basics


If you have been renting for years, unfortunately you have nothing to show for all the rent money you have given to your landlord. Due to the benefits of homeownership you may be considering purchasing a home. There are a variety of advantages that homeowners enjoy as compared to renters. These advantages include: tax deductions, appreciation, control over their property, and stability. Before buying a house you should consider how home-ownership will affect your employment, family, and financial situation. Once you have weighed the pros and cons of purchasing a house, if you decide to become a homeowner the following steps will help you prepare.

Step One: Get Pre-Approved For a Mortgage

Talk to your family and friends and ask them to refer a mortgage professional that they have had a good experience with. You will need to provide your pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns, and other personal information to your mortgage lender. Often being able to meet face to face with your mortgage loan officer will reduce stress and will help you stay better informed during the loan approval process. Make sure that you apply for a fully underwritten mortgage pre-approval. Many lenders will just pre-qualify individuals for a mortgage. A pre-approval will take longer to complete, but it will eliminate unforeseen issues such as: verified funds, past credit issues, and other potential problems and delays.

Step Two: Look For Your New Home

Once again, you should talk to your family and friends and ask them to refer a licensed real estate professional that they have used in the past. You may spend a lot of time discussing home options and looking at potential houses with your real estate agent, so it is important to be able to rely and trust their opinion and expertise. Knowledgeable real estate agents should be able to listen to your wants and needs in a house; then be able to honestly tell you what you can afford and the areas you can find the most house for your budget.

Step Three: Formal Loan Processing

Prior to signing your purchase agreement and submitting your offer through your real estate agent, you should contact your loan officer and ask for a loan estimate. The loan estimate is a detailed breakdown of your costs to close and monthly payment on the house you are considering purchasing. Ask your lender for a reasonable closing time frame and make sure your real estate agent writes in an appropriate closing date in the purchase agreement. Thorough communication will typically eliminate confusion and frustration during the mortgage process. At this point, time is of the essence, so when your lender asks for additional information, try to provide it as soon as possible. If you are unsure why the additional information is needed, ask for an explanation of why it is required, but provide the information in a timely manner.

Step Four: Closing

Once your loan is approved, you should receive a closing disclosure from your lender or the title company. Usually this disclosure is emailed to you and then must be e-signed before your closing appointment can be set. Lenders are also required to have the closing disclosure signed at least three days prior to the closing papers being signed. Once the closing papers are signed, the loan can officially file at the courthouse, which transfers the house into the borrower(s) name.

Step Five: Moving Day

Prior to the closing on your new house, make sure you talk to your real estate agent about when and whom to contact regarding transferring the utilities into your name. It is also a good idea to thoroughly clean your new house and change the locks prior to your official moving day.

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Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Mortgage Process Explained


Purchasing a home can be a frustrating and intimidating process. The best way that you can prepare for the purchase of your next home is to know what is required of you and what is happening during your home buying journey. Although, your lender will be the best source to explain the current status of your mortgage, the following is an overview of the stages of the mortgage process.

• Preparation and Pre-approval - The first thing that you should do prior to starting your search for a new home is to find a respectable and knowledgeable lender and to apply for a fully underwritten pre-approval. To obtain a full pre-approval, you will need to provide the lender with the following: proof of income, employment, and source of down payment. This information will allow the lender to determine your maximum buying power and which loan types you qualify for.

• Home Search - After you are pre-approved, you should provide a copy of your pre-approval letter to your real estate agent. When you find a house and your real estate agent presents an offer, the seller and listing agent of the property will likely require a copy of the pre-approval letter for the offer to be considered.

• Loan Application - Once you have a fully signed purchase agreement, you can officially make loan application on the property you are purchasing. You may need updated pay stubs and bank statements for your lender. At this time your lender will likely order the appraisal and title work for the property.

• Underwriting - Once the appraisal and title work has been completed, your mortgage should be submitted to the underwriting department for final approval. If any additional documentation or explanations are needed, they will be requested after the loan has been underwritten. You may receive a conditional approval letter, which outlines the items needed before the loan can close. Avoid new debt, derogatory credit, and changing employment during this stage. If any of these things happen, contact your lender immediately.

• Closing - After you have provided the documentation to clear any approval conditions. You should receive your final approval letter. Your lender will contact the title company to set the closing date for your mortgage. You should receive the closing disclosure three days prior to signing your final papers. Thoroughly compare your closing disclosure to your loan estimate, which you would have received when you made loan application. If there are any discrepancies in fees, contact your lender for an explanation. When you meet with the closing agent to sign your final papers, the mortgage and ownership of the house should transfer by the next business day.

Patience and understanding is needed when purchasing a house and obtaining a mortgage. Stay in contact with your lender and your real estate agent to find out what is going on, and what is needed to keep the process moving forward. Having a greater understanding of what is going on during your home buying process will limit frustration and the potential for the mortgage to be denied. Using experienced and trusted real estate and mortgage professionals should decrease possible delays and make the process smoother.

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Continued Economic Stability is Good News for the Housing Market


If you have investments in the stock market through 401K’s, IRA’s, etc…you might want to look at your account balances.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared rapidly from the 20,000 mark right through to the next plateau of 21K.  It is likely that your account balances are going along for the ride and increasing nicely.  The markets continue to rise as investors are accepting that the Fed is very likely to raise interest rates at the March Fed FOMC meeting.  The expected move by the Fed is seen as a clear indication that the economy continues to strengthen, and that in the end, so will corporate profits.

Fueling the likelihood of the Fed raising rates is the most recent GDP report released on Tuesday for the 4th quarter of 2016.  Although the report for this period was little changed from the 3rd quarter, the annualized pace of growth of 1.9 percent is considered stable enough to reinforce the feelings of a strengthening economy.  In addition, there was a surprising increase on consumer spending which rose .5 percent to an annualized rate of 3.0 percent.

Last week the January report on pending home sales declined unexpectedly by 2.8 percent.  Although the headline number caught many experts by surprise, looking deeper into the data, the cause is not lack of demand, but more so that inventories are close to historic lows on a national level.  The hardest hit market is the West in which contract signings were down 9.8 percent from December to January.  Compared to the same time last year, sales are down 0.4 percent for pending sales on a national level.

The fore mentioned inventory shortage is now beginning to impact home prices.  The December S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index showed home prices in the 20-city index increased from November to December by 0.9 percent.  Compared to the same time last year home prices are up 5.6 percent.  These are some of the strongest readings we have witnessed in the last year relating to home values rising.

Despite the shortage of housing inventory, mortgage applications for purchases and refinances both jumped 7.0 percent and 5.0 percent respectively.  The increase in loan activity can be attributed to the recent downward movement in interest rates as well as the typical increase in activity that occurs heading into the spring buying season.  Although we are still sitting in Winter, many parts of the country are experiencing warmer than normal weather, and that can be a stimulus for more activity.

Consumer confidence continues to remain strong.  The latest report posted a strong gain of 3.2 points from January to February.  The current reading of 114.8 remains at the highest point since the election.  The one thing to note is that even though the index is quite high, consumer spending has improved, but not at the same pace. That tells us that people feel better about the economy and the future of it, but are continuing to remain cautious with their money.

Next week’s potential market moving reports are:

·        Wednesday March 8th - MBA Applications and ADP Employment Report
·        Thursday March 9th - First Time Jobless Claims
·        Friday March 10th – National Employment

As your mortgage and real estate professional, I am happy to assist you with any information you may need regarding mortgage or real estate trends.  I welcome the opportunity to serve you in any way I possibly can.  Please feel free to reach me at (707) 455-7070.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Buying a Home - Before Making an Offer


When buying a home before you make an offer on it there are some things that you should consider. You want to make sure that this is the home that you want to raise your family in. Is the neighborhood is safe, schools close by, close to work, and more.

Personal budget

Almost everyone, before they look at the first house, has figured out a budget as to how much they can afford for a monthly house payment. No matter how impressive the home may seem if it is out of your budget, you should move on. Do not buy more home than you can afford. If you are buying a home for more than you can financially afford there is a risk of it going into foreclosure if you cannot make the monthly payments.

Space

Buying a home should not be looked at as a place that will fit your family now but will fit your family in the future. If you are newly married but want to have children n the future look at a home with enough space, such as bedrooms, to accommodate your future family. Look at the yard and see if it would be large enough for children to play in.

Thoroughly check it out

The house looks great inside and outside but even then, it could have some defects that you would not notice unless you thoroughly looked the home over. If you have a home that you really like it is okay to put money down as an express to purchase the home pending the results of a professional home inspection report. Having an inspection done will make sure that you are getting a good deal. Find out when it was painted inside and outside because it has been awhile you may have to paint the house in the near future. If the inspection reports show some property damage, find out if the damage is fixable. You should also find out what it will cost to fix the problem. If it is not repairable or will cost too much to fix it then it is best to look at other homes.

Accessories

Some homes for sale will have special features like a swimming pool or a garden area. Unfortunately, these extra features can cause the price of the home to increase by a few thousands of dollars. You need to think if you really need these extra features. You also need to check to see if they have been well maintained if you decide that you like these added features. For example, if the pool has not been well maintained and there is going to be expenses to get it in shape to swim in, will the cost be worth it.

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